From Post staff reports
Both school systems in Wilson County are in line to prosper from the announcement this week that the State of Tennessee was awarded approximately $500 million to implement a comprehensive school reform plan over the next four years.
According to Gov. Phil Bredesen, every school district and all of Tennessee’s public school students will benefit from the grant.
He said each school district throughout the state will be the recipient of a portion of the funds received.
Tennessee’s award of $500 million is double the amount initially suggested by the U.S. Department of Education for a state its size.
Delaware, the other state chosen for funding, was awarded approximately $100 million. Tennessee and Delaware were the only states chosen out of the 16 finalists announced earlier this month.
In an effort to improve America's public schools, the Obama administration offered a most enticing incentive, more money.
More than $4 billion of stimulus package funding was offered through the U.S. Department of Education in what was billed as the “Race to the Top” grant program.
Only two states, Delaware and Tennessee, of the 41 states that applied for the special grant program were rewarded for their plans to improve their respective school systems.
While these two states get $600 million total, the other 39 are to receive no funds from the grant.
States were judged on their past success at education reform, as well as their plans to embrace common academic standards, improve teacher quality, create educational data systems, and turn around their lowest-performing schools.
Among the offerings put into place in Tennessee in an effort to be awarded the grant, lawmakers passed a new law during a special session in January that requires half of teacher evaluations to be based on student achievement data, a key reform pushed by the Obama administration.
The state also lifted the state's cap on the number of charter schools that can open each year and established a statewide school district specifically for failing schools.
Bredesen called the grant money, a "landmark opportunity for Tennessee.
"Our success in Race to the Top speaks to the commitment we've made to meaningful and significant improvement in public education, and the funds provided by the grant will carry us forward in a dramatic and positive direction.”